Objectives behind India’s arms buildup
Mohammad Jamil


India is land of appalling poverty, and also land of insurgencies. Instead of allocating for the social sector to alleviate the miseries and woes of the people, India is spending billions of dollars on military build up and buying sophisticated weapons from all over the world. The twin objective is to continue repression on its people and to satiate its desire to dominate the region. When people take up the arms against repression and the injustices of the Indian government or if there is any incident of terrorism, India blames Pakistan without investigating the matter. Recently Indian Government has started insinuating Pakistan for its involvement in CRPF camp attack in Srinagar through a media campaign. Two militants hiding automatic rifles and grenades in cricket kit opened fire on a paramilitary camp on the Indian side of Kashmir on Wednesday, killing five Indian personnel and wounding five.

Local media reports said that Hizbul Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attack, in which three civilians were also wounded. Tensions have been running high in Srinagar since last month, when India hanged Afzal Guru who was accused of masterminding the attack on Indian parliament in 2001. Indian Home Secretary R.K. Singh alleged “prime facie evidence suggests that the militants who attacked the members of the Central Reserve Police Force were from across the border; they were probably from Pakistan”. Pakistan, however, rejected the remarks made by R.K. Singh, stating that such statements could roil the spirit of the dialogue between the two countries. In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Foreign Office also rejected the statement made by Defence Minister A.K. Antony in the Rajya Sabha accusing the Special Services Group of Pakistan Army of beheading two Indian soldiers on the Line of Control on January 08, 2013.

Pakistan has called upon the Government of India to carry out a thorough investigation into the incident before leveling such accusations which are counterproductive and serve no purpose. Unfortunately, India is on a buying spree for sophisticated weapons and arming itself to the teeth with the objective of dominating the South Asian countries and beyond. India’s defence personnel are involved in bribes and kickbacks and accusing Pakistan of attack on CRPF base is meant to deflect the attention of Indian masses from the above scandal. “Detectives raided the home of India’s former air force chief S.P. Tyagi on Wednesday as part of an investigation into alleged bribes paid to secure a $748 million contract for 12 Italian helicopters, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) spokeswoman Dharini Mishra said. The helicopter purchase came under scrutiny from Italian investigators looking into allegations the group had broken the law by paying bribes to foreign officials, leading to the arrest of Finmeccanica’s boss Giuseppe Orsi, who quitted from his post after his arrest, denied any wrongdoing and his lawyer called his arrest “unjustified”.

Italian prosecutors suspect that kickbacks worth around 10 per cent of the deal, or 50 million euros ($68 million), were paid to Indian officials to ensure AgustaWestland won the contract, according to Italian media reports. Cash was allegedly handed to a cousin of the former Indian air force chief with more money funneled via a web of middlemen and companies in London, Switzerland, Tunisia and Mauritius. India has become the world’s biggest arms and defense equipment buyer in recent years and is expected to spend $80 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade its military. Arms deals in India have often been mired in controversy, however, with allegations that companies have paid millions of dollars in kickbacks to Indian officials. In the 1980s, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s government collapsed over charges that the Swedish gun manufacturer Bofors paid bribes to supply Howitzer field guns to the Indian army.

Following the Bofors scandal, India banned middlemen in all defense deals. The case is also a major embarrassment for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government, which has been buffeted over the past year by a string of corruption scandals ahead of national elections scheduled in the first half of next year. From the shady deals it is obvious that corruption in Indian defence forces is rampant, and to make more money senior officers make arms deals, which tends to escalate the arms race in South Asia, as Pakistan is forced to increase its defence budget to maintain the balance in the region. After signing civil nuclear agreement with the US, India is poised to acquire nuclear plants to enhance its capability to make more nuclear devices, and will have the capacity to increase from its current production capacity of six to 10 additional nuclear bombs a year to several dozen per year. India is to jointly build a surface-to-air missile with the second biggest weapons supplier Israel and hopes for such collaborations with the other countries.

In 2009, the USS Trentonn, the giant American landing platform dock, was inducted in Indian navy for which order was placed by India for Rs 215 crores in 2007. It was re-christened INS Jalashwa. The acquisition of the INS Jalashva was meant to enormously boost the sealift capability of the Indian Navy. It is equipped with four landing mechanised craft and can carry up to 1,000 troops along with vehicles, tanks, artillery, ammunition and tracked landing vehicles. India has also increased its defence budget, and is poised to spend at least $50 billion on installation of nuclear power plants, which will enhance its capacity and capability to increase it nuclear arsenal. In 2010, New Delhi had allocated $11 billion to build and buy six new-generation submarines in what will be one of the biggest military contracts that India has signed. With these additions to the arsenal of India, the neighbors are likely to feel nervous, which will result into arms race in the region. All Saarc countries are wary of India’s hegemonic designs, as it has either dispute over land or over what is called water terrorism of India. In fact, India has become the source of instability in the region especially South Asian countries.